Technically a 2021 release, though it didn't come out theatrically here until January this past year, I mention it now because it's without a doubt the absolute best new movie I've seen this whole year (the best new movie I've seen in over three years in fact), and it's not even close. If it counted as a 2022 film, it'd easily top this list. And had I seen it before posting my list last year, it would've easily topped that one, too.
A modern day retelling of Beauty and the Beast for the social media age, this was just such a gem of a movie. I was so impressed with the film upon initial viewing at the theater that afterwards, I immediately left for the ticket counter, purchased another ticket, and watched it a second time in a row right then and there, which is the first time I had ever done that for any movie before.
A beautiful movie with breathtaking music and a story that'll hit you in all the feels, I can't recommend this one enough. I watched both the dubbed and subtitled versions, and while you really can't go wrong either way, I'd personally suggest going with the dub on this one.
Now then, onto the entries for this year's list...
Top Gun: Maverick
Just an all around solid and impressive outing, this movie serves to remind us what going to the movies is supposed to be all about: pure escapist fun! Also perhaps the most technically impressive movie of the year as well, given everything that went in to the making of this film, and capturing everything that they did in a practical manner. Here's hoping this movie's massive success triggers a return to form of sorts for the medium moving forward.
(Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett)
The first Scream not directed by Wes Craven, this fifth entry all the same serves as a perfect tribute to the franchise, while paying respect and staying true to Wes Craven's vision for this series up to this point. I honestly thought this was the best since the original film, and was highly impressed with its clever takes throughout. It's almost a shame that they're still planning to make more of these though, as I felt this movie also acted as a perfect sendoff for the series as a whole at that.
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish
I just really dug this movie. I thought the first Puss in Boots was okay, but that it didn't quite meet the potential it had to be a truly great film. Well, eleven years later, we have a sequel that absolutely reaches that potential and then some, and I'd honestly say that this is just straight up the movie we should've gotten all those years back in the first place. And heck, while we're at it, I'd also say that this movie also accomplishes what Pixar's Soul tried and, in my opinion, failed to accomplish from a thematic standpoint as well, and is very much the film that movie should've been, too. There's just so much heart and charm here, and a surprising amount of character and thematic depth, all brought to life with some truly stunning animation to be found throughout.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The Sonic movies are officially my personal Avengers films at this point. I thought the first movie was a pleasant surprise, and I found this follow-up to be similarly delightful. And enjoying this one in a crowded theater packed with enthusiastic Sonic fans especially made for a really cool experience. I'd perhaps argue that the first movie is a better and more overall solid film, but even so, this sequel is still a blast all the same, and does an outstanding job bringing the video games and these characters to life in a big way.
If there's a common theme amongst my picks this year, I'd say that a pure genuine love and respect for the source material and its existing fanbase is what you could perhaps take the most away from what helped elevate these films for me this year. And that sentiment certainly holds true in a big way with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, in which you can just tell how much the filmmakers truly love this series and are very much fans of it themselves, and in turn made a movie that fans around the world would similarly love and appreciate.